The Best Places to Get Cocktails in River North, Chicago

The River North area of Chicago has a lot to offer
The River North area of Chicago has a lot to offer | © Jaysin Trevino / Flickr
Photo of Jamie Miller
16 April 2018

River North is the classic Chicago area for a swanky night out, but the options abound, and it can be hard to know where to start. Never fear! Here’s a list of some River North favorites to get you started.

Celeste

Bar, Restaurant, American, $$$
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Celeste is the perfect place to grab a drink with friends | © Kohl Murdock / Courtesy of Celeste

Celeste is four floors of fabulous. For a casual drink with an upscale twist, head to the first-floor pub. For something slightly elevated—literally and figuratively—the early-1900s-themed Deco room on the second floor is the destination. Up one more for some dancing – Disco is billed as a separate entity, but it’s owned by the same group. The wall-to-wall LED dance floor completes the ’70s vibe here. The rooftop, inspired by the quintessential English garden, is the perfect destination for a glass of rosé—or something a little stronger—with friends. It’s enclosed, so guests can enjoy it all year.

Arbella

Bar, Cocktail Bar, Restaurant, Contemporary, $$$
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Arbella Interior
Take a trip around the world from the comfort of Arbella | © Arbella

Among the newer cocktail clubs on the scene, Arbella has quickly made a name for itself as a preferred River North destination. Guests are invited to take an alcohol-fueled trip around the world without having left Chicago. A sip of the Laguna Salada might inspire a trip to Mexico, a taste of the Rising Sun might be the push you need to book your Japanese vacation, or try the Chicago Fire Extinguisher to appreciate the wonderful city you’re in.

Bub City

Bar, Restaurant, BBQ, $$$
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Bub City is a great spot for a whiskey, a beer, or whatever you're in the mood for | © Anjali Pinto / Courtesy of Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises
For southern-style fun in the middle of the urban jungle, head to Bub City. In addition to the menu of BBQ classics and the drink list, which includes an extensive whiskey selection, Bub City offers live country music every night, featuring up-and-coming bands. If the stage calls to you, head to Bub City on Tuesday night for live-band karaoke.

Three Dots and a Dash

Bar, American, $$$
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If you’ve had your fill of whiskey and beer at Bub City, head to the venue’s hidden underground tiki bar, just around the corner and down a flight of stairs. The dark atmosphere is lightened by the tiki décor, and the colorful and inventive drinks are served in a variety of creative containers. Guests will be hard-pressed to find drinks that don’t feature rum, but for a truly tropical vibe, Three Dots is the spot.

Pops for Champagne

Bar, Nightclub, Contemporary, $$$
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Pops has been a River North mainstay for more than 30 years running and has everything needed for the ultimate champagne experience. With more than 250 selections to choose from, there is sure to be a champagne for every palette. If liquor, wine, or beer is more your style, Pops has you covered, too. The open space with the bar in the middle makes getting drinks a cinch, even when crowded, and lends itself to creating a comfortable atmosphere for larger parties, as well.

Bassment

Cocktail Bar, Contemporary, $$$
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Old fashioned
The Grand Old Fashioned at Bassment is a must-try | © CreativeInspiration / Pixabay

Another relative newcomer that has quickly carved out a place for itself in the ever-changing River North bar scene, Bassment is the place to go when ready for a dynamic night out. A live band accompanies the creative cocktails every night, which, when fused with the ’60s-inspired décor, sets the stage for a high-energy night of dancing and singalongs with friends. Different cocktails feature on Wednesday than on Thursday through Saturday, so be sure to stop by for drinks exclusive to the day.

The Kerryman

Bar, Pub, Restaurant, Pub Grub, $$$
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The Kerryman is a go-to spot for late-night drinks and dancing | © The Kerryman

Many Irish pubs outside of Ireland claim authenticity, but with three owners who hail from County Kerry and a head chef straight from Limerick, this is as close as it gets without being in Ireland. For the Jameson and Guinness happy hour specials, stop in on Friday evenings. For cocktails and late-night dancing with a live DJ, head to the top floor.